What Do Prototypes Prototype — Questions (Will Osborn)

For project one, my team and I are remixing Jenga in an attempt to spice things up. Here are a few questions that came up during the reading that we’ll want to answer through our prototype:

  • Is the game continuously engaging? One of the current downfalls with Jenga is that it’s highly turn-based and doesn’t start to get very tense until late in the game. Is our prototype successful in engaging the players who aren’t actively pulling out a block?
    • Why it’s important to answer: Because we’re creating a party game, it will need to effectively scale to increasing numbers of players. This means that the actions individual players are taking should capture the rest of the group’s attention.
    • How we’ll test it: This one doesn’t require any specific design element, we’ll simply gauge non-active player engagement as other players take their turns.
  • What kinds of remixes do players find most compelling? Are they interested in solo challenges (i.e. closing your eyes, using only your non-dominant hand), multiplayer competitions (i.e. racing to take out a block), or collaborative challenges (i.e. two players working together and each can only use one hand)?
    • Why it’s important to answer: We had a bunch of different ideas for how we might remix Jenga but weren’t sure which ones people would find most enjoyable. For this prototype, we included as many of these remixes as we could, but will eventually need to narrow our focus to give the game more structure and a better theme. Answering this question will help us understand how to consistently create fun experiences.
    • How we’ll test it: We’ll mark each challenge card with a category. As the players play the game, we’ll add the most compelling cards to one discard pile and the least compelling cards to another. After the game we’ll look at the distribution of the cards to see if any clear themes emerge.
  • Do players appreciate a new scoring system that isn’t solely based on one player losing? Or do they prefer the all-or-nothing scoring system currently in place in Jenga?
    • Why it’s important to answer: One of our current assumptions is that the current scoring structure in Jenga isn’t very compelling: there’s one loser and many winners, so no one feels special at the end of the game. Our new concept hinges on this assumption, so we’ll want to see if players are more engaged when they’re competing to win instead.
    • How we’ll test it: We’ll run two versions of the game and see which one the players prefer. In concept one, players will earn a certain number of points depending on the difficulty of the challenge they completed (1-3, players choose difficulty before their turn). If you ultimately are the one that drops the tower, you simply receive a points deduction but do not immediately lose. The player at the end of the game who has accrued the most points wins. In concept two, all the cards will be bundled together and the players draw a random card each time. In this version, there is still just a single loser.
  • How quickly do repeat challenges get boring? Is it better to have fewer challenges that are each really fun or more challenges that are individually less compelling?
    • Why it’s important to answer: We need to know if it’s better to create a breadth of cards for the next prototype or if our time would be better spent creating fewer challenges that we’re more confident in.
    • How we’ll test it: We’ll run one game with a bunch of cards, and then another game with just the cards that the players found most fun in the first round. If players have more fun doing the fun cards again and again, that’ll tell us that we should more carefully curate our final selection of cards.

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Game night enthusiast!

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